Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha

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Factory of Nanyō Kōhatsu in Saipan

The Nanyō Kōhatsu K.K. (南洋興発株式会社 Nan'yō Kōhatsu Kabushiki Kaisha, abbreviated to Nankō?) was a strategic development company which aimed to promote economic development and Japanese political interests in Micronesia and Southeast Asia. Founded in 1921 by Haruji Matsue to exploit the new mandated territory of Micronesia, Nanko received substantial support from the colonial administration and capital from the Oriental Development Company (Tōyō Takushoku K.K.). Building on the resources of the defunct Nan'yō Shokusan, Matsue was able to build a substantial empire supported by the sugar industry during the 1920s and 1930s.

Nan'yō Kōhatsu developed, or attempted to develop, a wide range of other interests, in British, Dutch and Australian territories, such as New Guinea, Sulawesi and Timor. The company was promoted as the "Mantetsu of the South" in hopes that it would be as successful and as profitable as the South Manchuria Railway Company.

From its base in Palau, Nan'yō Kōhatsu sent small ships to Dili as early as 1934 in an effort to break the monopoly of Dutch shipping on trade with Portuguese Timor.

In 1938, it had established operations in Portuguese Timor, and in 1940, a member of its board of directors held 48% of the primary plantation company of Portuguese Timor, SAPT.

As international tensions increased in the late 1930s, and following the outbreak of war in Europe, the extension of Japanese interests represented by the Nan'yō Kōhatsu greatly concerned the British, Dutch and Australian authorities. Although Portugal and its colonies were neutral throughout the war, the Japanese interest in Timor led to the Allied invasion and occupation of Portuguese Timor in late 1941.

Nanko was abolished at the end of the Pacific War by order of the American occupation authorities. The site of its former Saipan headquarters is now a museum.


  • Gunn, Geoffrey C. (1999). Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years. Macau: Livros do Oriente. ISBN 972-9418-69-1. 
  • Lee, Robert (2000). Crisis in a Backwater: 1941 in Portuguese Timor. Lusotopie 2000. 
  • Peattie, Mark R. (1984). "Chapter 4. The Nan'yō: Japan in the South Pacific, 1885-1945". In Ramon H Myers and Mark R. Peattie (eds). The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 172–210. ISBN 0-691-10222-8. 

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